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A creative press release you’ll love

Press releases sometimes get a bad rap. Sometimes they are confusing. Sometimes they are both.

For example, if you type “press releases are” into Google, the search engine suggests press releases are “not a PR strategy” or are “spam.”

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo bucked conventional wisdom today with a pretty creative idea for a press release: National Zoo Animals React to the Earthquake.

There are many accounts of the earthquake’s impact. From the Californian sneer, to journalist apathy, to the tangible damage to the Washington Monument. I wrote my own take, of getting information on the earthquake via social media while wondering if my friends and home were okay.

But animals’ reaction? Of course. Brilliant! Who wouldn’t be interested in the science of animal reactions?

“About three seconds before the quake, Mandara (a gorilla) let out a shriek and collected her baby,” reads the press release. “Kibibi, and moved to the top of the tree structure as well.” (Note: photo of Mandara and Kibibi nearby, credit to Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Flickr account)

Amazing – a mother’s first instinct to protect her offspring.

Perhaps even animals can serve as an early warning detection, since the release notes that “red ruffed lemurs sounded an alarm call about 15 minutes before the quake and then again just after it occurred.”

And snakes? Who isn’t fascinated by snakes? Even people that despise snakes can’t help but be mesmerized by their movement, their mastery of ambush, evolution for hunting, or more imaginatively, their lethality if venomous. According to the press release, the snakes at the zoo “began writhing during the quake.”

It’s a job well done by the PR team at the zoo – and seems to be one with legs. Nearly 300 Diggs and 30 comments at last count and some 1,200 Tweets according to Backtype. Too bad the release doesn’t have share buttons on it.

As for results? I’d love to see if the Zoo can measure an increase in attendance.

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